* Reshuffle follows minister’s election as president
* Foreign minister becomes new economy minister
TIRANA, June 25 (Reuters) - Former foreign minister Edmond Haxhinasto became Albania’s fourth economy minister in three years on Monday, in a reshuffle of the coalition cabinet ahead of an EU verdict on Albania as candidate to join.
The changes in the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha come after Bujar Nishani resigned as interior minister and was elected president.
Berisha named Flamur Noka, an official of his Democratic Party, as interior minister to replace Nishani.
The Socialist Integration Movement (SIM) party led by Ilir Meta, which provides Berisha with the necessary votes to govern, named new ministers to the foreign, economy and health portfolios.
Edmond Panariti, the deputy mayor of Tirana, replaced Haxhinasto as foreign minister while Vangjel Tavo, a gynaecologist, will be the new health minister.
A promoter of Albania as a business-friendly country, Haxhinasto will oversee the 100 percent sale of the state-owned Albpetrol oil company and hydropower plant concessions.
He will face discontent from foreign mining companies unhappy with a new mining law that has led one firm, Canada’s Empire Mining, to shut down its operations and take the economy ministry to court.
Albania hopes to improve its economy, end long-standing political factionalism and fight organised crime and corruption to improve its chances of becoming a candidate for membership of the 27-nation EU.
A decision on its candidature is expected from Brussels in October. General elections are due in Albania next year.